By Charlotte Shipman with additional reporting by NZPA
The Government has confirmed New Zealand's elite Special Air Service (SAS) troops were involved in a counter-attack on the men who are thought to have killed 28-year-old Lieutenant Timothy O'Donnell in Afghanistan last year.
Lt O'Donnel died last August after his patrol in north-east Bamiyan province was attacked with explosives. He was the first New Zealand solider to be killed in the conflict.
Until now, actions after his death had been kept secret.
TVNZ's One News said the Government had confirmed that SAS troops stationed in Kabul were involved in hunting down the Taleban insurgents and 12 were believed to have died during the counter-attack.
They mobilised from their base in Kabul two weeks after Lt O'Donnell was killed and, with American assistance, launched a counter-attack in Baghlan Province.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said New Zealand was taking an active interest in the region and New Zealand forces "were involved".
"We have our special forces to be able to undertake military operations - that is part of their overall remit," he said.
"It is in the remit of the special forces to be able to undertake operations at the direction of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and Nato, and in this case, particularly, to protect our people."
Mr Mapp denies the attack was revenge.
Lt O'Donnell died on patrol in north-east Bamyan Province and it was believed insurgents who attacked the convoy had come in from neighbouring Baghlan Province, the report said.
The report said there had been claims civilians died in the counter-attack but Mr Mapp said they had proved to be false.
NZPA / 3 News
source: newshub archive